I discovered this recipe for the Champagne Julep while poring over the historic drink book called 173 Pre-Prohibition Cocktails. It’s based on a circa 1917 book called The Ideal Bartender, written by Tom Bullock, an African American bartender who was well-known around St. Louis and Chicago for his Claret Punches, Free Love Cocktails and juleps of all sorts. Bullock was one of the first celebrity mixologists and definitely the first African American one. George Herbert Walker (as in the 41st president’s grandpa) was one of his devoted patrons and so was beer baron August Busch.
Bullock’s julep became part of a scandalous national libel case, when former president Teddy Roosevelt sued a newspaper editor for calling him a drunk unfit to hold another public office. Roosevelt testified under oath that he had only had two alcoholic drinks in his entire life, including a few sips of one of Bullock’s juleps.
Newspaper editorials didn’t buy it, writing that the only part of the drink Roosevelt probably left behind was the ice, the mint and the metal cup. The jury did though, and Teddy won his libel suit.
Makes 1 cocktail
8 fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ounce brandy
4 ounces champagne
sprig of mint, for garnish
Bruise the mint leaves by rolling them between your fingers. Add the sugar, bruised mint leaves, and brandy to a rocks glass. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Fill the glass three-quarters full with crushed ice. Pour on the champagne. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Photo credit: Paul Body